Are There Nutritional Differences Between Fresh Milk and Powdered?

Walk into just about any store, and you'll find a variety of milk products. Most of these are different types of cow's milk, though products like goat milk and plant-based milks are becoming increasingly popular. Powdered milk is another alternative milk product made from regular milk. It has a longer shelf life grfewqaand some nutritional differences compared to fresh milk products.

There are more vitamins in fresh milk compared to powdered milk. (Image: Pongsak Tawansaeng / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages)

Tip

Powdered milk is made from dehydrated, pasteurized milk. Fresh, raw milk has more nutrients and active enzymes compared to any other pasteurized milk product, including powdered milk.

Types of Milk

You can purchase most animal milks, like cow's milk, as full-fat (also known as whole or 3.25 percent), 2 percent fat, 1 percent fat and nonfat (skim) products. However, these milk products come in a variety of different types. According to the National Dairy Council, you can find milk products listed as:

  • Pasteurized: Pasteurized milk is heated to 161 F (71.7 C) for at least 15 seconds and then rapidly cooled to its original, chilled temperature. This process kills any harmful bacteria. Some beneficial nutrients and enzymes are also removed during the process, and vitamins A and D are typically added after.
  • Organic: This type of milk adheres to the USDA's National Organic Program standards. It is also pasteurized.
  • Raw Milk: This type of milk is not pasteurized and therefore has the most enzymes and nutrients of all milk products. Not all states allow the sale of raw milk, however, as unpasteurized dairy products have a higher risk of causing of foodborne disease.
  • Ultra-Filtered Milk: This type of milk is filtered to separate five main components: water, nutrients, lactose, protein and fat. This separation process is used to make products like lactose-free milk, protein-rich milk and other specialty dairy products.
  • Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) Milk: UHT milk goes through a similar process as pasteurized milk, but at a higher temperature. This product doesn't need to be refrigerated until it is opened; unopened, its shelf life is typically several months. It is often considered to have a different, sweeter flavor compared to other milks.
  • Dry or Powdered Milk: Dry or powdered milk is made by dehydrating milk that has been pasteurized. The shelf life of powdered milk can range between six and 18 months, and it is available in various types (like nonfat and full fat). Dry milk products are typically sold as powders, but may also be added to other milk products to enhance textural attributes, like creaminess.

Fresh cow's milk is a fairly different product from powdered milk. Once reconstituted, powdered milk has a different flavor than other cow's milk beverages. There are also major nutritional differences between powdered milk and fresh milk.

Milk Nutrition Facts

Cow's milk products have a lot of variation. However, most of their differences are related to their macronutrients, rather than to vitamins and minerals. In one cup (8 ounces or 244 grams) of full-fat cow's milk, you can find:

  • 149 calories
  • 7.9 grams of fat, which is 12 percent of the daily value (DV). Of these, 4.6 grams come from saturated fat. Cow's milk also contains healthy fats, like omega fatty acids.
  • 7.7 grams of protein, which is 15 percent of the DV
  • 11.7 grams of carbohydrates, which is 4 percent of the DV

Each cup of full-fat cow's milk contains the following minerals:

  • 21 percent of the DV for calcium
  • 7 percent of the DV for potassium
  • 6 percent of the DV for magnesium
  • 16 percent of the DV for phosphorus
  • 8 percent of the DV for zinc
  • 7 percent of the DV for copper
  • 16 percent of the DV for selenium

Each cup of full-fat cow's milk also contains the following vitamins:

  • 12 percent of the DV for vitamin A
  • 9 percent of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • 32 percent of the DV for vitamin B2
  • 18 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
  • 5 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
  • 46 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
  • 16 percent of the DV for vitamin D

On the other end of the spectrum, nonfat milk has most of the same vitamins and minerals as full-fat milk. It contains slightly more of certain nutrients (like vitamin A, vitamin B12 and phosphorus) and slightly less of others (like copper and selenium). Compared to whole milk, nonfat milk contains substantially different macronutrients, though. Each cup has:

  • 83 calories
  • 0.2 gram of fat (half of which come from saturated fat, with no omega fatty acids)
  • 17 percent of the DV for protein, or 8.3 grams of protein
  • 4 percent of the DV, or 12.2 grams of carbohydrates

Powdered Milk Nutrition Facts

As with fresh milk products, powdered milk comes in various forms. Nonfat, dry milk is the most common, but it is also possible to find whole, dry milk.

One ounce (28 grams) of whole, dry milk contains:

  • 139 calories
  • 7.5 grams of fat, which is 12 percent of the daily value (DV). Of these, 4.7 grams come from saturated fat. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids also make up part of this fat.
  • 7.4 grams of protein, which is 15 percent of the DV
  • 10.8 grams of carbohydrates, which is 4 percent of the DV

Each ounce of dried, whole cow's milk also contains the following minerals:

  • 26 percent of the DV for calcium
  • 11 percent of the DV for potassium
  • 6 percent of the DV for magnesium
  • 22 percent of the DV for phosphorus
  • 6 percent of the DV for zinc
  • 7 percent of the DV for selenium

Each ounce of dried, whole cow's milk also contains the following vitamins:

  • 5 percent of the DV for vitamin A
  • 5 percent of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • 20 percent of the DV for vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • 6 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
  • 15 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
  • 22 percent of the DV for vitamin D

There are no major differences in the macronutrients of fresh, whole cow's milk and dried cow's milk. However, there are less of several nutrients in dried cow's milk.

The same amount (one ounce) of nonfat, powdered milk is fairly different from both fresh, nonfat milk and whole, dried milk. Each ounce contains:

  • 101 calories
  • 0.2 gram of fat (half of which comes from saturated fat, with no omega fatty acids)
  • 10.1 grams of protein, which is 20 percent of the DV
  • 14.6 grams of carbohydrates, which is 5 percent of the DV

Each ounce of dried, nonfat cow's milk also contains the following minerals:

  • 35 percent of the DV for calcium
  • 14 percent of the DV for potassium
  • 8 percent of the DV for magnesium
  • 27 percent of the DV for phosphorus
  • 8 percent of the DV for zinc
  • 11 percent of the DV for selenium

Each ounce of dried, nonfat cow's milk also contains the following vitamins:

  • 12 percent of the DV for vitamin A
  • 8 percent of the DV for vitamin B1 (thiamin)
  • 26 percent of the DV for vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
  • 10 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
  • 19 percent of the DV for vitamin B12

Note that powdered milk differs substantially according to manufacturer. While some products may ask you to use a few tablespoons of dry milk when reconstituting one cup of milk, others may ask for as much as a third of a cup of powder. Such differences can obviously impact the nutritional values of these products.

Cow's Milk vs. Powdered Milk

Many of the nutrients between fresh and powdered milk are the same, but are simply present in different amounts. While the variation between whole and nonfat fresh milk is minimal, there is more notable variation between whole and nonfat dried cow's milk products.

In cow's milk, there are very small differences in the macronutrient content of whole fresh and dried milk as well as nonfat fresh and dried milk. However, there are more minerals and less vitamins in dried milk products compared to fresh ones. Be aware that these differences may not be the same when comparing other products, like powdered goat's milk versus fresh goat's milk, though.

Since the American Heart Association recommends limiting your saturated fat intake, you should opt for nonfat milk products when possible. Given the lack of fat and very high calcium content of dried, nonfat milk, this product can be considered nutritious, despite its differences from fresh milk products.

Nonfat milk powder can be used to make beverages creamier without adding any fats. You can also use nonfat, dried products to make desserts or healthy, fermented foods like yogurt.

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